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AIRPORT DESIGN Last modified on August 18, 2014

Project watch - Heydar Aliyev International Airport

New state-of-the-art terminal opened at Azerbaijan gateway.

Project details
Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Important developments: New terminal, revamp of existing one and new ATC tower
Completion date: October 2013
Principal companies involved: Woods Bagot, Buro Happold, Arup, Autobahn
Total investment: Undisclosed

A new, sleek and modern international terminal opened at Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku in October 2013, providing 60,000sqm of usable area, a capacity of 6mppa and 13 passenger boarding bridges.


Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) wanted to create an international gateway to the country that would increase its airport’s capacity by 50%.

Triangular in shape, with rounded off angles to reflect the Azerbaijan Airlines logo, the building measures 190m long and 280m wide.

The creation of aviation design masters Woods Bagot, Buro Happold and Arup, with interiors by Autoban, the new terminal is arguably an architectural marvel.

Built in a seismic zone, the four-storey structure provided a design challenge for all parties, particularly because it was contracted on a fast-track build time of just two years.

When Arup designed the concept for the building, when possible the aim was to provide “generously proportioned spaces” lit with natural light. The design includes a tapered façade, giving the building a unique appearance.

The organic shape allows light from the façade and roof to enter the building, while skylights form an integral part of the steel structure of the roof.

The design uses a frame resistant system to allow for seismic forces and is constructed from a steel perimeter and underlying concrete structure.

The construction of a new air traffic control tower was also part of the project. In addition, the existing terminal was refurbished: the old façade was stripped and replaced by metal mesh with additional insulation, a design more in harmony with the adjacent new terminal building.

“Energy reduction and conservation is the cornerstone of the building services design,” enthuses Buro Happold’s project director, Paul Crayford.

“Various strategies, including daylighting control, tightly controlled infiltration and pressurisation strategies, dynamic system operations, energy recovery systems, along with variable volume controls, have resulted in a low carbon producing terminal, when benchmarked against other similar facilities throughout the region.”

Sustainability carries through to the interiors, where Istanbul-based interior design firm Autoban created spaces from heavy-duty yet lightweight materials.

“The environmental and sustainable design started with balancing the choice of materials and production techniques. For the floor covering of the entire terminal, we chose a quartz-based material that is both natural but also industrial at the same time,” says Seyhan Ozdemir, partner and designer at Autoban.

Synthetic materials, such as plastic, were also avoided in keeping with the eco-friendly design, while low energy lightbulbs and efficient lighting systems prove key to sustainability.

Lightweight materials were also used in the interiors to help tailor the design around its seismic zone location.

To eliminate excessive construction and speed up fit-out time, Autoban designed a series of ‘cocoon’ semi-structures from a lightweight wood.

The 6.2m to 10.5m high cocoons are used for a private check-in, luggage room, Internet information room, as well as café, restaurant, tea house, champagne and caviar bar, spa and beauty shop, music and book store, and a children’s play area.

“They serve as interior landmarks while showcasing a compatible approach to the airport that is already built on the notion of mobility, they also strongly define our general approach to design,” notes Sefer Caglar, partner and designer at Autoban.

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